“Welcome to TR, where great minds are under construction,” a bulletin board at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary said. It was a fitting message Friday morning.
The original structure has been reduced to about a 20-step walk to the cafeteria after the building was determined to have structural issues. That didn’t go unnoticed to a pair of siblings on Friday.
“What happen to the hallway?” the sister asked her parents. “How do I get to my classes?” her brother followed.
Chances are that their classrooms are outside. The principal’s office, library, kindergarten and first grade, and fourth through sixth grade are in mobile classrooms.
TR’s renovation project isn’t scheduled for completion until around Spring Break, which means the six mobile classrooms will be in use throughout the year.
Principal Andrea Tiede said she knows the upcoming school year will have its challenges. But she said she’s hopeful and excited.
“It makes me so happy to have the kids here,” Tiede said. “It makes everything worth it.”
In that respect, it’s like the beginning of any other school year despite the later start and renovations. Other than being a few months older, most of the kids are the same, so they know to go to the cafeteria on the first day.
After meeting her students, fourth grade teacher Becky Baldridge tried to normalize the situation. “It’s like a hallway but with no roof,” she told her class of the open-air walk to her room.
After accomplishing her first goal of not losing any students on the way to the room, Baldridge began her normal first-day routine of attendance, assigning numbers to students and going over her expectations.
Jalen Bowles is one of Baldridge’s students this year. He is described by his mother, Melissa Bowles, as a “quiet little guy.”
Jalen said it felt good to be a fourth grader. “School is fun,” he said. “You get to learn new things.” Jalen especially enjoys playing dodgeball in PE.
Jalen has a younger brother, Jaxon, in the first grade. Bowles said she always drops them off on the first day of school.
She said she likes to be a part of her children’s school lives, and has served as a room parent in the past.
“I think it’s important for parents to get involved,” Bowles said. “Being a teacher is a thankless job, so any help they can get is appreciated.”